Net Neutrality (briefing pack)

(See also Net Neutrality, the original wiki page)

What is this?

ORG is putting together a briefing pack on net neutrality, in the spirit of our previous ones on term extension and e-voting. This page is a kind of staging area for organizing and drafting it. Dan is putting it together, but by all means help me out!


(Details as of this revision incorporate significant info from Marsden's Net Neutrality and Consumer Access to Content

The briefing pack should

  • Start with a layman's (i.e., journalist's) guide to how the Internet works now, how discrimination would work, and what "network neutrality" as a proposal would mean.
    • Include summary of what the current regulatory landscape looks like (why we're where we are)
      • UK
        • Local loop unbundling
          • Ofcom moves to ease barriers to switching between providers [1]
      • Europe
        • Proposed Directive amending the 2002 Directive (Nov 2007) ([2])
          • Broadly favors a transparency solution
        • 2002 Universal Service Directive
    • Include discussion of what other EU countries are doing on the issue
    • Include brief summary of nations elsewhere (US: coupla bills, Obama's platform; Japan, whatever they're up to) to show that we're not asking the UK to get out in front of a brand new issue.
  • Anticipate and respond to arguments against NN:
    • Lay out conditions (econ. and legal) under which ISPs would start discriminating
      • Apply today's situation to that model: will they discriminate in reality?
        • This will let us say, "Here's why acting now is important!"
        • ISPs will have to enter the content business if they are to invest in next gen broadband [3]
  • Describe ORG's ideal telecom access policy
    • i.e., what flavor of net neutrality would work best?
    • Two possible forms: ex ante (rules for entire industry) and ex post (individualized antitrust against individual offenders)
      • Ex post won't necessarily set "precedent" for other telcos; without reporting rules, enforcement would require expensive evidence gathering
    • Too much regulation can stifle competition by increasing barriers to entry
    • Must be carefully managed and avoid bureaucratic drift; future technology should "outgrow" today's regs cleanly when bandwidth is more plentiful
      • This could be as simple as a time limit or a rule conditioned on an objective measure of shortage
  • Apply today's situation to the status quo: at what level should the policy be implemented?

Current examples

These could be useful for illustrating the scope of the threat, as well as particular types of discrimination:



Marsden, Christopher (2007). Net Neutrality and Consumer Access to Content, SCRIPTed Vol 4 No 4, 407–435, available at

Kocsis, Viktória & Paul W.J. de Bijl (9 Mar. 2007). Network Neutrality and the Nature of Competition Between Network Operators, CPB Netherlands Bureau for Economic Policy Analysis, available at

Bauer, Johannes M. (2007). Dynamic Effects of Network Neutrality, International Journal of Communication vol 1, 531–547, available at

Frieden, Rob (2007). Internet 3.0: Identifying Problems and Solutions to the Network Neutrality Debate, International Journal of Communication vol 1, 461–492, available at

Ariño, Mónica (2008). Remarks at Fourth Internet, Law and Politics Congress, session III, in Barcelona, 2–3 June 2008, as transcribed by Ismael Peña-López, available at (speaking for Ofcom on the topic of self-regulation and the Internet).

Proposal for a Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Directive 2002/22/EC on universal service and users’ rights relating to electronic communications networks, Directive 2002/58/EC concerning the processing of personal data and the protection of privacy in the electronic communications sector and Regulation (EC) No 2006/2004 on consumer protection cooperation; COM (2007) 698; available at!celexplus!prod!DocNumber&type_doc=COMfinal&an_doc=2007&nu_doc=698&lg=en

(Intro to the above:

Eccles, Richard, & Karen Nightingale (2005). Assessment of Significant Market Power in the UK Electronic Communications Markets, available at

Several presentations from a 2006 NN workshop in London:

Hou, Liyang, Peggy Valcke, David Stevens, & Eleni Kosta (2008). Network neutrality in Europe: innovation thanks to or in spite of the law?, presented at the EuroCPR Conference 2008, available at

Odlyzko, Andy (2008). Threats to the Internet: Too Much or Too Little Growth?, Internet Evolution, available at Independent information gathered on ISPs' caps. Point-Topic's 2006 data on UK ISPs' marketshare

Broadband Stakeholder Group (2008), A Framework for Evaluating the Value of Next Generation Broadband, available at,com_docman/task,doc_view/gid,1009/Itemid,63/

Hogge, Becky, The battle for net neutrality, Open Democracy, 9 May 2006, available at

Bohm, Nicholas & Richard Clayton, Open letter to the Information Commissioner, 17 March 2008, available at

Herrero-Martinez, Erica, EU Commission wants UK government to probe targeted advertis-ing, Dow Jones Newswire, 16 July 2008, available at

Bearne, Suzanne, Consumer fears over ad targeting threaten ISPs, New Media Age, 17 July 2008, available at

Fisher, Frank, Caught in the web, The Guardian, 17 January 2008, available at

Bergmayer, John (2007), Are network filters the 80% solution?, Public Knowledge,

Scott, Dougal (Director of Policy Development, Ofcom) at the Westminster e-Forum, 20 Mar. 2007, available at

Proposed US ACTA multi-lateral intellectual property trade agreement (2007),